POLICY ON ERG GRANTS

Hearing Health Foundation
Policy on Emerging Research Grants (ERG)

Updated September 25, 2019. Please email grants@hhf.org with any questions.

I. GENERAL POLICIES AND OBJECTIVES

Hearing Health Foundation (HHF) awards grants once a year for the project period of October 1 – September 30. A grant represents a mutual joining of interests on the part of HHF, the Grantee, and the Grantee Institution in the pursuit of a common objective, furthering hearing and balance science. HHF Emerging Research Grants are intended primarily for promising researchers who are in the early stages of their careers and focusing on hearing loss, hearing restoration and hearing and balance related conditions. Senior investigators are also eligible for grants in specific hearing and balance topics.

The primary purpose of this Award is to enable the Principal Investigator (PI) to become established and/or produce quality research that will allow the PI to successfully compete for NIH grants or grants from other sources.

Applications will be considered for research on specified research topic areas of the auditory and vestibular systems to be listed in the Request for Applications; both fundamental and clinical research proposals are welcome. HHF grants up to $50,000 per year for each research project for an initial period of one (1) year, renewable for one (1) additional year.

Priority is given to new investigators in the field of hearing and balance and to projects that are likely to open new lines of inquiry. New and innovative projects developed by established scientists will also be considered. 

The Council of Scientific Trustees (CST) of HHF, in conjunction with the Scientific Review Committee (SRC), will consider the subject of the research, the quality of its design, including the data collection and evaluation components, its potential to significantly advance basic knowledge or clinical application, the available facilities and personnel at the institution in which the research will be carried out, and the qualifications of the Principal Investigator (and any co-PIs as appropriate). In accepting a research grant, the Grantee Institution and the Grantee are responsible for using grant funds only for those purposes set forth in the application and approved in the HHF award letter.

 

II. SUPPORT OF A RESEARCH PROJECT TERMS & CONDITIONS

A. Approved Project: This is an identified activity or program approved by HHF for support for a specified period of time.

B. Project Year: This is the one-year period for which funding has been awarded. If requested before the end of the initial project year by the Grantee/Grantee Institution and approved by HHF, the project year may be extended by up to one year without additional funding. The PI may also apply for one (1) additional year of funding as part of the normal application process. 

C. Project Period: This is the estimated length of time that it will take to complete the research project: it is one year at the start of the project but may be extended by a second year of funding. The PI may apply for a no-cost extension (see IV(D) below) of up to twelve (12) months to follow the first year and/or the second year, should the project be renewed for a second year. The entire project period cannot exceed four years.

D. Award: An Award will be made for one project year up to a maximum of $50,000. An Award will only be funded in the research topic areas specified in the Request for Applications.

E. Principal Investigator (PI): The Principal Investigator is the primary individual responsible for the preparation, conduct, and administration of a research grant. The PI is identified as such in the grant application and remains the PI until HHF approves any Change of Investigator request by the Grantee Institution (see IV(C)).

F. Grantee: The Grantee is the recipient of a grant, the Award. The Grantee is responsible for following the terms and conditions of the Award, including all reporting and fiscal requirements.

G. Grantee Institution: The Grantee Institution is the university or research institution that employs the Grantee and accepts the Award on behalf of the Grantee. The Grantee Institution is legally responsible for following the terms and conditions of the Award, including all reporting and fiscal requirements.

H. Available Funds and Budget:

 

Grant funds may only be used for the direct costs of carrying out approved projects, such as:

  • salaries of technical and supporting personnel;

  • limited alteration and renovation of existing facilities;

  • purchase of equipment (cost of equipment should be equal to/greater than $5,000; any capital equipment necessary to the proposed experiment(s) costing less than $5,000 needs to be justified);

  • supplies including drugs and services; and

  • other specifically authorized expenses as may be essential to carrying out the project.

If an institution requires an allocation for indirect costs, this amount may not exceed THE LESSER OF $5,000 AND 10% of the total Award. Regardless of the amount allocated to indirect costs, the HHF Award for any one year will not exceed $50,000.

Grant funds may not be used for the following:

  • salary of Principal Investigator, co-investigator or individuals with a doctoral degree;

  • equipment under $5,000 (i.e., office equipment such as laptops, printers, etc.)

  • travel;

  • living expenses;

  • reprints;

  • overhead costs exceeding 10% of project costs; or

  • public information, education programs or training costs (including tuition).

The CST and the SRC will in their sole discretion evaluate and approve the proposed itemized project budget.

HHF expects that the Grantee Institution, in authorizing expenditures for the research project, will adhere to the approved budget that was included in the application. The Grantee may transfer amounts from one budgeted category to another with specific approval from the Grantee Institution within the categories specified by HHF. HHF should be notified in writing immediately and a revised budget, justification of the changes and approval by the Grantee Institution should be provided to HHF. A letter from the Grantee should also be provided to HHF explaining the changes between budgeted categories with justification for these changes. Any proposed change in the direction of the project must first receive written approval from the HHF CEO. All obligations of grant funds must be incurred within the Project Period unless otherwise approved by HHF in its sole discretion.

I. Publications & Publicity

  • Grantees are expected to make the results of their HHF-funded research available to the scientific public in a timely manner. Acknowledgment of HHF support must be made when findings are reported to scientific audiences, published in scientific journals or on pre-print servers, or when publicity is given to a project, such as by the Grantee’s home institution or in the mainstream press.

  • Publications resulting from work supported in whole or in part by HHF must mention “Hearing Health Foundation” in the acknowledgements section. A full PDF copy should be submitted to HHF at grants@hhf.org as soon as possible.

  • When a project receives an Award, HHF has the right to publish its abstract and results, when available, on its website, in Hearing Health magazine, through social media channels, in its Annual Report, and through other public information vehicles.

  • Publications may be summarized in the above-mentioned outlets. HHF may request that Grantees write short summaries (200-800 words) of their publication for non-scientific audiences. The Grantee Institution may prepare this type of summary. Any such summary should be forwarded to HHF at grants@hhf.org as soon as possible. The Grantee and/or Grantee Institution will receive full credit, though HHF may edit for length and clarity. 

  • HHF may promote Grantees’ work on social media and encourages Grantees to share any social media accounts (e.g. Twitter handles and LinkedIn profile URLs) they would like us to use (tag) where appropriate.

  • Past ERG Grantees are encouraged, but not required, to share any published work that is not funded by HHF even after the Project Period ends. This information is catalogued at hhf.org/erg-alumni.

J. Reporting

  • Final Report: All HHF Grantees must submit an ERG Final Report and Expenditure Report due three months after the termination of the Project Period in accordance with the instructions accompanying the report. Unless otherwise authorized by HHF, unexpended funds must be returned to HHF with this report.

 

III. ELIGIBILITY, APPLICATIONS, NOTIFICATION & PAYMENT

 A. Eligibility

For all applicants:

  • Applicants should demonstrate experience and strong research training as well as sufficient institutional support (facilities and time as well as mentorship, if applicable) to carry out the proposed work.

  • Applicants must hold an M.D., Ph.D., Au.D. or equivalent degree.

  • The applicant must hold an appointment at a non-profit educational, governmental or research institution within the U.S. Appointments may include faculty, postdoctoral fellow, or clinical/research fellow. Otolaryngology residents are eligible to apply. Other medical residents and graduate students are not eligible to apply.

  • The proposed research must address one of the hearing and balance topics advertised in the ERG Request for Applications. In the application, the applicant must provide justification for the relevance of the proposed research to the designated ERG topic area.

  • PIs in early stages of independent research careers are especially encouraged to apply.  

Eligibility for “General Hearing Health” applicants (Limited to early career researchers):

  • Principal Investigators should be in the early stages of independent research careers (within 7 years of completing their terminal degree).  

  • If the applicant is a postdoctoral fellow, it is expected that he or she be at the senior level (e.g., 3 or more years of postdoctoral training).

  • Further, the applicant must demonstrate in the application that he or she is on a pathway to professional independence in his or her academic career. Specifically, the applicant should indicate how the proposed aims will help with his or her transition toward independence from the mentor, including how the proposed research is distinct from the mentor's research program.

  • Applicants cannot be a current or prior PI on a major independent research award (e.g., R00, R03, R21, R01, VA Merit, DoD, or equivalent). Prior appointment on fellowship/training grants, or prior service as a PI on a mentored career development award, is allowable.

  • Applicants may not concurrently receive support for the proposed project of more than $75,000 per annum in direct costs from any other combined source(s) during the Project period. Funding of pending awards during the HHF Project Period may necessitate the return of the balance of the HHF award.

The Grantee must inform HHF of any change in eligibility after the Award has been made and during the Project Period.

 B. Ineligibility: Individuals employed or otherwise conducting research at institutions outside of the United States are not eligible to apply. Applications for research continuation or bridge funding should not be submitted.

 C. Other Funding: An application to HHF for grant support of a research project shall state whether the same project is receiving support from other sources and whether an application has been submitted to another source for such funding. If, after application to HHF or at any point during the Project Period, this same project receives support from another granting agency, the Grantee and the Grantee Institution shall promptly notify HHF of such funding and make provisions to return any unexpended HHF funds.

D. Notification: HHF will notify each applicant whether or not his/her project has received a grant for the upcoming project year, and if so, the amount of that Award.

E. Payments: Grants will be paid in two equal payments, disbursed in October and April.

F. Budget Deviation: Any budget deviation during the project year requires an updated budget and justification of the change and is subject to HHF’s approval in its sole discretion. In the interim, remittance of payment cannot be provided.

G. Conflict of Interest: The Grantee Institution should maintain and enforce a Conflict of Interest policy and sign and submit the Conflict of Interest statement to that effect provided by HHF.

 

IV. PROJECT CHANGES

 A. Transfer of Institution: No research grant can be transferred from one institution to another without the written approval of HHF. To provide this approval, HHF must receive from the Grantee:

  • a request in writing for HHF’s approval of the transfer;

  • written approval for this transfer from the fiscal officer at the present Grantee Institution;

  • an expenditure report covering the Project Period at the present Grantee Institution up to the proposed time of the transfer to be approved by HHF, and a statement of the provisions made for the return to HHF of all unexpended funds received by the present Grantee Institution for the grant;

  • the name and address of the fiscal officer of the new institution;

  • a confirmation from the appropriate chairperson at the new institution of the Grantee’s new appointment and confirmation that the new duties and the available facilities and personnel will permit the prompt continuation of the research project;

  • a progress report on the work done at the present Grantee Institution since the beginning of the Project Period or, if applicable, since submission of the Mid-Year Report; and

  • if the Grantee is an early career researcher (as defined above), a letter of support from a mentor at the new institution.

B. Change of Objective: Prior approval of HHF is required if the Grantee wishes to make changes that can alter the approved objectives for which the original Award was made. Failure to obtain approval or HHF’s declination may result in termination of Award and forfeiture of future payments.  

C. Change of Investigator: If the Grantee relinquishes or expects to relinquish active direction of the project, HHF must be notified immediately. The Grantee Institution may:

  • request that the Award be terminated, in which case a Final Report and an Expenditure Report must be submitted, and unexpended funds must be returned to HHF; or

  • with the approval of HHF, continue the project under the direction of another investigator. The new investigator’s CV, an interim progress report, and any other pertinent information required by HHF should accompany the request for such continuation.

D. No-Cost Extension: If a project extension is required, the Grantee must request a no-cost extension on his/her institution's letterhead no later than 30 days before the end of the initial Project Period. The request must be approved by the HHF CEO. The letter must include the reason for a no-cost extension, an expenditure report up to the point the request is filed and the requested duration of the extension. The Project Period may be extended up to twelve (12) months without additional funding. No additional extension beyond one year will be approved. A Grantee applying for a no-cost extension to the initial Project Period may not apply for a second year of funding until the start of the next regular application period, regardless of the length of the no-cost extension. A Grantee who has applied for and been awarded a second year of funding for the Project may, at the end of that second year, apply for a no-cost extension of up to a maximum of twelve (12) months.

 

V. LIMITATIONS

A. Geographical: Grants are limited to institutions within the United States of America.

B. Time: Awards are approved for a period of one year.

C. Amount: A grant cannot exceed $50,000 for one Project Year or $100,000 for one Project Period.

D. Non-tax-exempt organizations: Domestic non-profit, tax-exempt institutions must be recognized by the US Government as an IRS 501-c-3 organization. ERG Awards are not made to for-profit concerns.  Grants are made solely to tax-exempt organizations to support research directed at those institutions by investigators who are on their staff or are otherwise formally attached to them. 

E. Institution Awards: HHF will fund no more than a total of five (5) ERG Awards annually to any one institution. The funding will be limited to the five (5) grants of the highest priority as determined by HHF.

F. Funding: HHF grants are meant to support research endeavors carried out by investigators who are beginning to work in the field of hearing and balance generally or in a new sub-field thereof. 

VI. CONDITIONS

In the event that the Grantee breaches any of the provisions of the policy described above, HHF reserves the right to withhold further payments of the Award and to require the Grantee to repay to HHF any funds expended in contravention of such provisions.